MSNBC Will Cover Ford STEAM Lab Hackathon in Detroit on March 27


Ford Motor Co.’s STEAM Lab is hosting a hackathon for Detroit middle school students to better help them develop coding skills and think of ways to reform education. The program, which is part of the Ford Motor Co. Fund, will be held March 27-28.

The Ford STEAM Lab — science, technology, engineering, arts, and math — is designed to provide low opportunity youth exposure to careers with high potential. One hundred children from Detroit-area middle schools are being invited to the event. 

“We’re looking for kids who have potential but just haven’t found their spark. We’re hoping that we can spark interest in careers in STEM or in tech entrepreneurship to become a coder or developer,” says Shawn Wilson, manager of multicultural community engagement for the Ford Fund.

Wilson says careers in engineering and technology that offer artistic and creative challenges are in demand.

“At the end of the day, it’s about breaking the poverty cycle. If you can give kids interest and skills in a high-demand field like technology, they could come out of high school or college making $70,000 to $80,000,” Wilson says.

Ford STEAM Lab is partnering with local organizations such as Sisters Code, a Detroit-based organization that helps women succeed in STEM fields, and Grand Circus, a Detroit-based organization that helps people gain the skills needed for careers in technology. MSNBC will do a live taping of the program on the afternoon of March 27.

The Ford Motor Co. Fund launched the Ford STEAM Lab in October 2014. This year’s hackathon will be held at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center, which opened almost two years ago in southwest Detroit in what used to be the Mexicantown Mercado. The center offers dance and art classes, along with other after-school programs for children, as well as tax preparation and job-hunting assistance for adults.